The Indian River County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit was started in 1992 with 2 dual purpose K9 teams and 1 single purpose narcotics detector K9 team. The K9 Unit has now grown to 7 dual purpose K9 teams today. Out of those 7 K9 teams, 6 are patrol / narcotics detector K9’s and 1 is a patrol / bomb detector K9. The K9 Unit also has 1 bloodhound that is trained in locating missing and endangered persons as well as lost children. The K9 deputy position is a highly sought after and competitive position. Deputies who are selected for this position have proven to be well rounded and proactive deputies
Deputies must have a minimum of 2 years law enforcement experience before applying for a K9 deputy position. All interested deputies, including deputies who have not yet attained 2 years of law enforcement experience, are provided with the ability to come out to the weekly K9 training day as an opportunity to learn more about the K9’s and how they work. Newly selected K9 deputies goes through an initial intensive 3 month patrol course. This patrol course covers obedience, tracking, building searches, area searches and the apprehension of fleeing suspects. After the patrol course is completed the new K9 team then goes through either a narcotics or bomb detection course. Once the new K9 team has successfully completed both patrol and detector courses they are considered a dual purpose K9 team and are assigned to a shift to patrol the county.
All deputies assigned to the K9 Unit are issued a Chevrolet Tahoe as a patrol vehicle. Sheriff’s Office K9 teams train in conjunction with other local municipal K9 teams on a weekly basis and certify annually as a group in both patrol functions as well as narcotics and or bomb detection. The K9 Unit frequently conducts demonstrations for citizen groups, local schools as well as public functions throughout the county. Currently K9 deputies work a 4 day on 3 day off schedule which provides for 7 day a week, 24 hour a day K9 coverage. K9 deputies are also available for callout as needed.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Unit is a unique part of the Special Operations Division staffed with 4 deputies. These deputies are responsible for handling traffic issues such as DUI’s, speeding complaints, motor vehicle crashes, school zones as well as any other traffic complaints that come in. Traffic Unit Deputies attempt to focus the majority of their traffic enforcement efforts in areas that have been identified to have a large number of motor vehicle crashes.
Members of the unit are assigned a marked Harley Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle. Each motorcycle is equipped with a radar, a laser, an audio / video system, a computer and a citation printer. All deputies in the unit must complete an extremely demanding 80 hour Police Motorcycle Riding Course. Deputies in this unit are also assigned an unmarked Chevrolet Tahoe for a patrol vehicle.
Traffic Unit members are specialized in a wide variety of traffic related training. This training includes Traffic Homicide Investigations, Crash Reconstruction, Advanced DUI Enforcement, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, Drug Recognition Expert, Passenger and Commercial Vehicle Interdiction and Presidential Protection / Dignitary Details.
Competition for a spot in the Traffic Unit is fierce. Deputies wanting to become a member must be proactive and self-motivated. Deputies who are interested in the Traffic Unit are able to come out with the Traffic Unit on specialized training days to become more familiar with the unit as well as the equipment used. The Motor Unit travels all over the State of Florida assisting with escorts and special events such as VIP motorcades, charity event escorts and funeral escorts. The unit also participates in similar local events in and around Indian River County. Deputies assigned to the Traffic Unit must be flexible with their work hour due to the unpredictability of special events and callouts for fatal crashes.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture and Marine Unit is staffed by 4 deputies and patrols the agricultural areas as well as the waterways of Indian River County. These properties are diverse and include pasture land, woodlands, agriculture groves and farms, marsh areas, lakes, Sebastian Inlet as well as the Intercoastal Waterway. Some of the calls handled by deputies in the unit include theft, trespass, animal cruelty, loose livestock, hunting and fishing violations, suspicious persons and suspicious vehicles calls. Deputies assigned to this unit also frequently handle search and rescue missions.
Deputies in this unit utilize four wheel drive Ford F-150’s equipped with 12,000 pound winches as marked patrol vehicles due to the specialized duties they perform. Each deputy in the unit is also trained in the operation of various pieces of equipment to conduct patrols, carry out investigations and assist with natural disasters. Currently the unit has 2 Yamaha Kodiak ATV’s, 1 Honda Rancher ATV and 1 Kawasaki Teryx UTV that are used for a variety of tasks on the beaches and agricultural areas. Unit members are also trained on and utilize a Hamant built aluminum hull airboat outfitted with a Lycoming O540 engine for patrol of the marsh and lake areas. The unit also has a twin engine 25’ Contender for conducting offshore patrols as well as a 26’ Pathfinder for inshore patrols.
The members of the unit establish and maintain good communications with land owners and land managers throughout the county in order to determine where problems are occurring so that issues may be addressed in a timely and effective manner. Every deputy is a member of the Florida Agricultural Crimes Intelligence Unit which shares information throughout Florida about crimes in the agricultural communities through a network of emails and meetings. Nearly two thirds of Indian River County is agricultural or waterways and the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Agriculture and Marine Unit works diligently to maintain law and order in these areas year around.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit began utilizing helicopters in 1996 starting out with 2 Army surplus OH-58 helicopters. Currently the Aviation Unit is operating the 2 original OH-58 helicopters and 2 TH-67 helicopters. The helicopters are outfitted with latest sensor equipment to include FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) Star SAFIRE 380-HDC, CHURCHILL moving map system, Troll Downlink system, Technisonic multiband P25 airborne transceiver and Garmin / Aspen avionics package. All pilots are also equipped with white phosphor night vision goggles.
The FLIR system gives the tactical flight officer the ability to detect heat signatures which assist in the locating of hidden suspects and or missing persons. The Troll Downlink system allows video being taken by the helicopter to be streamed to a command post so supervisors and incident commanders can view the video in real time.
The Aviation Unit is housed in a newly built state of the art hangar facility located on Sheriff’s Office property. The Aviation Unit is staffed with 4 pilots as well as 2 full time aviation mechanics and is capable of daytime as well as nighttime operations. The Aviation Unit assists road patrol deputies in a variety of calls for service such as robberies, burglaries, vehicle pursuits and missing persons. The Aviation Unit also responds to marine emergency calls such as overturned vessels in the Sebastian Inlet as well as in the Intercoastal Waterway. Deputies who are interested in a career path as either a pilot or a tactical flight officer are able to come out on specified training days with the Aviation Unit to become more familiar with the helicopters as well as the equipment onboard.